World first, hypoallergenic, prestige lavender oil
NZ produces the world’s first, hypoallergenic, prestige grade, lavender oil
3 June 2008
New Zealand has long been known as a premium supplier of quality ingredients to the world’s food and beverage and natural products industry, but now New Zealand can count amongst its impressive export credentials, that of being a supplier of ingredients to the prestige fragrance industry.
Recently, after a number of years in development, two Canterbury men, Dr Philip Simms and Mr Owen Dexter formed a company called NZLavender Ltd and started commercial production of lavender oil for the prestige fragrance industry.
``This is truly a unique New Zealand operation,’’ said Simms. ``The particular lavender cultivar we use was developed in New Zealand and we understand that New Zealand is the only country in the world where this cultivar is in production and producing commercial quantities of prestige grade oil.’’
Simms described, ``The extensive research we have done clearly shows that this New Zealand prestige grade oil either equals, or exceeds, the quality components demanded by the global prestige fragrance industry, and is significantly lower in many of the less desirable aroma compounds.’’
``What is very interesting to us, is that unlike almost all lavender oil, produced anywhere in the world, NZLavender’s lavender oil has been shown to be very low in a compound that the European Union and the United States has described as allergenic or `allergy causing’; we have therefore created the world’s first, hypoallergenic prestige lavender oil, which has largely limited its use in the past.’’
Owen Dexter, who spends much of his time dealing with the operational aspects of NZLavender’s oil production, said that while this cultivar is unique to New Zealand, there are other aspects that go into making this oil unique. ``The best lavender oil in the world is grown at altitude, while ours is grown on the Canterbury Plains, which is only just above sea level,’’ Dexter explained ``one major consideration is the very high levels of UV light during the New Zealand summer, which we believe is equal to the relative levels of UV light found in the French highlands, where the world’s best lavender oil is produced.’’
Dexter explained, ``beyond the unique botanical and environmental aspects, we have also developed a distillation system that is optimised for the oil of this cultivar, it does not look like any other distillation system we have ever seen. It is essential to the quality of the oil that the material is not subjected to long periods of high temperature, ideally the flowers should be heated up to distillation temperature as quickly as possible and then steamed for the shortest possible time. We are very proud of our harvesting and distillation technique, which processes the flowers from the field to the finished oil in under one hour.’’
Both Dr Simms and Mr Dexter have returned from a trip to Amsterdam where they attended two international trade shows on cosmetics and fragrances.
``The results were very pleasing’’ said Simms, ``we have potentially more commercial interest in NZLavender than our production capability can meet right now, but most encouraging was the response from the buyers from the prestige fragrance industry. I could tell from their faces after the first smell that they knew they were holding something special.
Despite the difficultly in cultivation and relatively low oil yields, it appears that NZLavender Ltd is very happy with the choice of this unique NZ cultivar for their Canterbury operation. And while Simms and Dexter would not be drawn on projecting their future revenue from this crop, they did say that in addition to the prestige fragrance industry, NZLavender oil was currently being analyzed by a German pharmaceutical company, after one of the components of the oil had captured their attention for use as a key ingredient in a medical product.